Martin Hawksey has held advisory roles within the UK educational technology sector including a number of government funded innovation centres. In March 2021 Martin joined the Edinburgh Future Institute (EFI) at the University of Edinburgh as Learning Design and Technology Lead, providing technical and pedagogical expertise to support the development of the digital learning environment used by EFI (find out more in the interview below). Prior to this from 2013-2021 he was the Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer at the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), responsible for leading innovation and supporting the use of technology across ALT’s activities in a range of areas including member services, events and projects. In this and other roles Martin has supported staff in the exploration and adoption of innovative approaches to teaching and learning including the use of data and analytics in education. Notable work includes the Twitter Archive Google Spreadsheet (TAGS) and companion visualisation tool TAGSExplorer, which he developed to provide an easy way for users to explore Twitter based communities. Martin is also recognised by Google as one of their Google Developers Experts for his contribution to the Google Apps Script and Google Workspace developer community.
Interview – March 2021
Martin Hawksey joined EFI in March 2021 as our Learning Design and Technology Lead. Find out more about his role supporting fusion learning at the EFI and his collegial approach to the role.
Can you describe your role in a nutshell?
My role at EFI is providing technical and pedagogical expertise to support the development of the digital learning environment used by EFI. The additional challenge is EFI is developing and delivering courses around a fusion learning model. With fusion learning EFI will be teaching students on and off campus as a single cohort without double-teaching. The challenge is creating an effective learning environment that works across these multiple modalities.
What are the main challenges of delivering a fusion learning model?
Mixing modalities and combining face-to-face and online is a challenge. Each modality has its own affordances and they are often not the same. In an on-campus context being able to see and be with someone in person can make things like social and emotional engagement easier. For my undergraduate degree I would usually sit next to the same three people. Being in that type of proximity immediately makes it easier to have peer support, to ask what you feel are silly questions without the embarrassment of the entire class hearing. In an online context that type of support is possible but it must be more considered. The challenge for us is to reduce the friction between the different modalities making it easier for teachers to teach, learners to learn and for all to make connections in a broader community of scholarship.
What qualities and previous experience will you bring to your role at EFI?
Throughout my career I have been driven by curiosity and creativity, continually exploring the edge of educational technology. Doing this has often required developing and applying new skills and my philosophy is often not knowing something is an opportunity to learn. Consequently, I have expertise in a wide range of areas from data visualisation and social network analysis, software development, video production and more, all of which I expect I will use at some point in my role at EFI.
Before joining EFI I have had various advisory roles within the UK educational technology sector including several government funded innovation centres. Most recently I worked for the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer where I was responsible for leading innovation and supporting the use of technology across ALT’s activities in a range of areas including member services, events and projects. As part of ALT’s professional accreditation there are core values that I will draw upon:
- exploring and understanding the interplay between learning and technology; and
- an empathy and willingness to learn from colleagues from different backgrounds and specialisms.
Already I have had a number of insightful and extremely useful conversations with colleagues and I am looking forward to continuing these as part of my role.
You can find more information on the EFI Education team and courses here.